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The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 11 November 1939 (USA)
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3:29 | Trailer
A depiction of the love/hate relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Writers:

Norman Reilly Raine (screen play), Æneas MacKenzie (screen play) (as Aeneas MacKenzie) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 5 Oscars. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Queen Elizabeth
Errol Flynn ... Earl of Essex
Olivia de Havilland ... Lady Penelope Gray
Donald Crisp ... Francis Bacon
Alan Hale ... Earl of Tyrone
Vincent Price ... Sir Walter Raleigh
Henry Stephenson ... Lord Burghley
Henry Daniell ... Sir Robert Cecil
James Stephenson ... Sir Thomas Egerton
Nanette Fabray ... Mistress Margaret Radcliffe (as Nanette Fabares)
Ralph Forbes ... Lord Knollys
Robert Warwick ... Lord Mountjoy
Leo G. Carroll ... Sir Edward Coke
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Storyline

This period drama frames the tumultuous affair between Queen Elizabeth I and the man who would be King of England, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. Ever the victor on the battlefield, Devereux returns to London after defeating Spanish forces at Cadiz. Middle-aged Elizabeth, so attracted to the younger Devereux but fearful of his influence and popularity, sends him on a new mission: a doomed campaign to Ireland. When he and his troops return in defeat, Devereux demands to share the throne with the heir-less queen, and Elizabeth, at first, intends to marry. Ultimately sensing the marriage would prove disastrous for England, Elizabeth sets in motion a merciless plan to protect her people and preserve her throne. Written by IMDb Editors

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Man of Iron- A Woman of Fire. (Print ad- Fort Dodge Messenger-Chronicle, ((Fort Dodge, Iowa)) 20 March 1940) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The relationship between Elizabeth and Essex bordered on the incestuous. His maternal great-grandmother Mary Boleyn was a sister of Anne Boleyn, mother of Queen Elizabeth I, making him a cousin of the Queen, and there were rumours that his grandmother, Catherine Carey, a close friend of Queen Elizabeth's, was Henry VIII's illegitimate daughter. Moreover, his mother was married to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the Queen's most beloved courtier and rumoredly her secret lover. See more »

Goofs

Details of some historical characters and events have been changed to fit the dramatic narrative. See more »

Quotes

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex: [after being slapped hard by Queen Elizabeth I] I would not have taken that from your father the King; much less will I take it from a king in petticoats!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Warner Brothers shield is in the form of an English coat of arms. This logo was seen in Errol Flynn's previous film The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). See more »

Connections

Edited into The Story of Mankind (1957) See more »

Soundtracks

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love (Come Live With Me and Be My Love)
(posthumous 1599) (uncredited)
:yrics by Christopher Marlowe
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Played on piano by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and sung by Nanette Fabray
See more »

User Reviews

 
The Elizabeth of legend
7 December 2005 | by arturusSee all my reviews

This picture, based on Maxwell Anderson's play (written entirely in blank verse!) portrays the Elizabeth of legend, not the historical Elizabeth, in this case based on Lytton Strachey's book, "Elizabeth and Essex". In other words, this is more a theatrical than a strictly accurate presentation of the great queen and her times.

And what a presentation! Lynn Fontanne portrayed Elizabeth in the play's original Broadway run; Judith Anderson played her in the 1968 television presentation (opposite Charlton Heston!). Davis takes the part (re-written for the picture, discarding the blank verse) over the top. Her overactive, explosive performance might seem too much to some, but it definitely matches the style of the play itself, the sumptuous settings, gorgeously photographed, the historically accurate costuming, and Korngold's splashy, brilliant score, one of his best creations.

The supporting cast matches her at every turn. Even Flynn's performance, dismissed at the time as being lightweight, comes across as the ideal foil to the tempestuous, aging queen he's playing against.

Quite a treat, even after almost seventy years. Definitely of its time, but, understanding this, it can be thoroughly enjoyed.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 November 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Essex and Elizabeth See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,075,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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